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Soberón named interim director of KU’s Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

LAWRENCE — University Distinguished Professor Jorge Soberón has been named interim director of the Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas.

“Dr. Soberón is an internationally recognized leader in biodiversity modeling. He is well known for both his scholarship and his collegiality,” said Simon Atkinson, vice chancellor for research. “I have every confidence that he will lead the Biodiversity Institute well during this time of transition.”

Soberón is a professor in KU’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and a senior scientist in biodiversity modeling at the Biodiversity Institute. He will step into a leadership role held for 25 years by Leonard “Kris” Krishtalka, who is retiring at the end of this year. The search for a permanent director is ongoing.

The Biodiversity Institute is an internationally recognized center for research and graduate education in systematics, evolutionary biology, paleontology and archaeology. The KU Natural History Museum is the iconic public face of the institute and serves public audiences including K-12 schools, families and adults, the university and the informal science education community.

Soberón joined KU in 2005 and was appointed a University Distinguished Professor in fall 2014. He is a world-renowned scholar in interdisciplinary biodiversity science and ecology, and his research focuses on documenting and understanding large-scale spatial patterns in the biodiversity of terrestrial species. Indeed, he has been pivotal in establishing KU as a world leader in the field of biodiversity informatics. His research themes include theoretical and computational modeling of species’ richness across landscapes, and the past, present and future geographic distributions of species under scenarios of environmental change as well as the international policy implications of those changes. Soberón’s research has been funded by major grants from the National Science Foundation and Microsoft Research, and his papers have been published in the highest-ranking journals in his field.

He earned a doctorate from Imperial College, University of London, in 1982 and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the National University of Mexico. In 2018, Soberón was awarded a Silver Medal by the Mexican government as one of 31 “Distinguished Mexicans” who are living outside Mexico.


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